“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:8-10
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts ” Colossians 3:12-16
Let’s begin by noticing in Romans 13:10 that love is the fulfillment of the law. However, in Matthew 5:17 we read, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Is there a contradiction between the two texts? Absolutely not because since Jesus is love it makes perfect sense to say either Jesus fulfilled the law or love fulfilled the law as they are the same.
In Galatians 5:14 we are given a practical application of how the fulfillment of the law works. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” When we love others we fulfill the law. (see Romans 13:8)
Notice also that love is not an add on to the law but replaces the law in that it reinterprets the law and applies it in light of what our relationship with God and our fellow humans should look like. And that relationship is expressed as “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (See Colossians 3:12)
As Christians we are transformed through the work of the Holy Spirit and love pours out of that experience. Timothy Keller says that you can tell a Christian because it is all he/she wants to talk about. But it is more than just talking; it is putting love into action.
In Colossians 3:12-16 we receive a great deal of amazing advice about how love plays out in our lives. First of all, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
This is an amazingly difficult thing to do regardless of our good intentions. If we are truly going to love we will learn to forgive the hurts, shame and guilt that is pilled on us. I don’t have any easy answers for that except I know the love of God forgives us so what holds us back from loving others? Paul goes on to say, “let the peace of Christ dwell in your heart.” Romans 13:15
The peace of Christ can only dwell in your heart if you are willing to forgive those who have done you wrong regardless of how much it costs you. And the source of that power to forgive is love. “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14 But our text in Colossians 3 has a further admonition for us, “and be thankful”. (v. 15)
What Paul is talking about in Colossians is a total transformation of the character from secular and self-centered to spiritual and Christ-centered. Forgiveness and peace are only possible when we love. When the love of God dwells within our hearts we see the world and the church through different eyes.
Paul lists some of the practical ways love plays out in our hearts, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” Colossians 3:16
When we love others the words of Jesus will dwell deep in our hearts and the harvest of wisdom will be rich. We will not only have the capacity to teach but more importantly the desire to teach. Then Paul cries out to us to allow God to fill our hearts and our voices with songs of praise and worship.
The music we sing in church is not a simple add on to the service to make it stretch out. It is an intricate aspect of worship and praise that springs out of our love for the Father and His Son Jesus. When we sing praising God we are expressing our thankfulness for all Jesus has done for us.
Please take these two series of verses, Romans 13:8-10 and Colossians 3:12-16 and contemplate upon them. Ask yourself how your life stacks up against God’s desire for you. Do you love or are you still depending upon your actions and works of law to carry you into the kingdom of God? What are the areas in your life that could use a fine-tuning regarding love? How can you love better?
Ask yourself questions like these and when you think you have the answers go to God in prayer. You will find a deeper and richer prayer life as well as a purpose and goal regarding your prayers. You will find that you love God more and your neighbor more.
* The persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…